Ask me about my earliest baking memories, and I’ll tell you they revolve around mom making spice cake in the kitchen of our small apartment. With the patience that always characterized her, she would gently mix the batter with a wooden spoon (spatulas were non-existent), and would slowly pour it in an age-old baking pan with smooth edges and black interior. I would watch her lost in the beauty of colors and aromas, and ready to devour the copper-hued cake brimming with cinnamon and juniper berries, if we were lucky enough to get hold of the latter.
Ask my husband about his earliest baking memories, and he’ll have two words for you: crème brûlée. The first thing he remembers about the baking process is the smell of fresh caramelized sugar – and his trepidation in anticipation of the forthcoming treat. His mom (my mother-in-law) would make crème brûlée in a big enamel pot, capable to feed an army – and thus definitely capable to feed four small children! As the years went by and the children grew up an left home, MIL had to reduce quantities and to give up on her humongous crème brûlée enamel pot – and yet, everyone’s love of her dessert (myself included!) never subsided.
I thought crème brûlée would be the perfect dessert to make using Nielsen-Massey Vanillas products. I have been incorporating Nielsen-Massey extracts into my family’s recipes for two years now (some of my previous reviews can be found here, here, and here). Nielsen-Massey Vanillas contacted me again recently and offered to send me one of their vanilla extracts to review as part of their latest “Better Your Bake” campaign. Baking dreams of crème brûlée? Yes, please! 🙂
According to Nielsen-Massey, recent studies have shown that creative activities such as baking, help people feel more relaxed and happier in their everyday lives. But in order to benefit from the mindful nature of baking, basic techniques must first be mastered. The “Better Your Bake” campaign delivers technique-based videos, tips and tools to help home bakers learn and master the basics of baking with the help of Nielsen-Massey products.
For this campaign, I picked their Mexican Pure Vanilla Extract to review.
Nielsen-Massey’s Mexican Pure Vanilla Extract is made from premium, hand-selected beans cultivated in Mexico, the original birthplace of the vanilla plant. Its flavor profile is spicy-sweet and resembles clove and nutmeg.
I wanted to suggest a dessert that would be easy to make, decadent, and good at highlighting the quality of this vanilla extract – and crème brûlée seemed like the perfect option for this purpose. MIL’s recipe is not your usual crème brûlée recipe – but oh my, it’s so delicious! Add some roasted chopped hazelnuts to go with the caramel goodness free floating at the bottom, and you’ll think you’re in dessert heaven 😉
The recipe could not be easier. Put the eggs and 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl, and mix with a hand mixer until well combined.
Add the milk and vanilla…
…and mix again until homogeneous.
Caramelize 1/2 cup sugar in a medium saucepan on the stove for approximately 5 minutes.
One by one, fill each ramekin with a quarter of the caramelized sugar.
Spread the caramel very quickly and evenly, with swift circular motions.
Your goal is to have a uniform layer of caramel both on the bottom and on the walls of the ramekins. Now you can also add coarsely chopped hazelnuts on the bottom of the ramekins, on top of the caramel, if you so wish.
Divide the egg, sugar & milk mixture evenly among the caramel coated ramekins, leaving 1/2in top margin uncovered.
Place the ramekins in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly caramel appears on the margins. Take the ramekins out of the oven and cool slightly.
Serve with fresh seasonal fruit and roasted chopped nuts of your choice.
We love to eat crème brûlée with strawberries, blueberries and fresh peaches, as well as roasted chopped hazelnuts as a crunchy textural element.
Here it is: the perfect afternoon treat – or so I think 🙂
Nielsen-Massey’s Mexican Pure Vanilla Extract worked beautifully in this crème brûlée, rendering it luscious and unbelievably flavorful. I could definitely taste a certain sophisticated spiciness coming through the vanilla flavor, which elevated this dessert and made a lasting impression on our family. While spending my days working on the conversions for this recipe with MIL, I also got the chance to familiarize myself with the “Better Your Bake” videos, which I found very informative and to the point. The “How to Fill a Homemade Pastry Bag for Piping” video was one of my favorites. Not only did it have great visuals, but the highlighted technique was explained slowly and thoroughly, in a way which appeared accessible and unpretentious. I will definitely continue to refer to Nielsen-Massey’s videos as I go on with my baking journey.
For more exciting recipes that use Nielsen-Massey products, go on social media and search for the #NielsenMasseyInspires hashtag. You can also head over to my Instagram account starting on Tuesday September 3rd and enter my giveaway for a chance to win a bottle of Nielsen-Massey Mexican Pure Vanilla Extract. Good luck! 🙂
Disclaimer: While I received a complimentary product to facilitate this review, all opinions expressed here are my own.